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Creation of the Masks
       Life casting can be traced back as far as 2100 BC to the face of an Egyptian king. Making life masks of famous people gained popularity in 14th century Europe. It was a way to capture the true image of a person before the invention of photography. A life cast is much better than photography because there is a direct connection with the life and flesh of the famous. It is like owning the celebrity; you can touch the face and study it from every angle. You can study every pore, wrinkle, and scar of the famous.
 
      The most remarkable life casting artist was Madame Tussaud. Born in 1760, she became famous for her London Wax Museum. She started taking casts of the freshly guillotined heads during the French Revolution. Some of the casts taken by Madame Tussaud were Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and many of her friends. She describes this event as "Shreeking with horror, but eager to retain a memento."
       Sometimes life casts are used as reference for other works. The Lincoln mask taken in 1860 was used by the sculptor to model the face on the Lincoln Memorial. This cast was also used by the Disney studio for the creation of the Lincoln figure for the Hall of the Presidents.

       In Hollywood, Life Masks are made to design special make up effects for the movies. The make up artist will cast the stars face so that he can experiment with various makeup effects without putting the star through the ordeal. Also, if make up appliances are cast, they can be made from this model.


 
      To make the mask the artist uses alginate, a special material that is intended to create a detailed impression while being more comfortable on the model than materials of the past. Prior to this development, plaster of Paris was used directly on the face; this was not flexible at all. It pulled out the subjects eye lashes and eyebrows and got very hot as it cured. This old method almost killed Thomas Jefferson.
       The artist will prepare the subjects by greasing the eye brows, pulling back and covering the hair and usually sticking straws up their nose so they can breathe. Then he layers the alginate on the stars face. The celebrity must sit very still as the goop hardens on his face. This material is then backed up by plaster gauze. When set up, the impression is pulled from the face. Plaster is then poured in to this mold. When it is taken out we have a positive exact image of the star's face in 3 dimensions. The original mold is destroyed in this process. Other casts are made from the positive using silicone molds that preserve all the detail.

       Enhancements can be made at this point. Hair can be sculpted on the mask.The hair style that is unique to the subject can be faithfully recreated. Eyebrows and facial hair can also be sculpted. When life masks are cast, the celebrity naturally has his eyes closed, so historically a life mask collection would look more like a morgue than a collection of lively vibrant people. The Sculptor can open the eyes and give back the original character and expression of the person.
 
       Special effect makeup can be faithfully recreated to depict the stars in their most famous roles. Costumes can also be sculpted on the stars to make very impressive tributes to the celebrities.
       All masks are full scale one to one direct casts, some are a foot tall, they are very heavy and constructed to last. The masks are cast in Ultra Cal , the hardest USG casting cement available.



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